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By Jay de Leon

Master Godofredo Fajardo
leads his Modern Arnis class amidst
the date trees in Saudi Arabia.

It is hard to imagine that an Asian martial arts would take root and find acceptance in the Middle East, itself steeped in its own martial arts and currently embroiled in several regional warfare involving modern armament. But that is exactly what Master Godofredo Fajardo is trying to do--propagate arnis or Filipino martial arts (FMA) in the Middle East, hoping that the seeds of this ancient martial arts take root and spread just like the date trees that dot the landscape there since the time of Abraham and antiquity.

Master Godofredo Fajardo
Modern Arnis Lakan Antas Pito.

Godofredo Fajardo is a master of Modern Arnis, a direct student and friend of Professor Remy Presas, Founder of Modern Arnis. In 2001, he was appointed Commissioner for the Middle East by his mother organization, the International Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (IMAFP), an appointment sanctioned by Arnis Philippines, the governing body for arnis in the Philippines, including the Olympics. Godo set up headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and proceeded to teach arnis under the aegis of his own school, Filipino Fighting Arts International (FFA).

Filipino Fighting Arts KSA
in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Since arriving in Saudi Arabia, he has established several chapters and promoted several dozen lakans (black belts) as well as one dayang (female blackbelt), in arnis. He now has a a thriving independent organization in Saudi Arabia called Filipino Fighting Arts-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or FFA-KSA. Ghazi M. Al-Turaifi, a Saudi national, is currently president and a guro (instructor) of FFA-KSA. In addition to Guro Al-Turaifi, there are four other guros in the organization—Manuel Maer, Noel Dayawon, Nathan Walker and Wail Irshaid.

Guro Manuel Maer, Master Fajardo, and Guro Wail Irshaid,
from left to right, pose with award plaques from
Jordan carved from camel bones.

FFA-KSA regularly conduct seminars, tournaments and workshops all year round.On November 17, 2005, for example, FFA-KSA conducted a Modern Arnis workshop for Practical Self-Defense with Guro Nathan Walker, an American, as instructor and coordinator. On September 25, 2005, FFA-KSA participated in an open martial arts tournament, the Second Invitational Tournament hosted by the Philippine International Martial Arts Association (PIMAA) held at the Riyadh International School (RIS) in Riyadh. Master Fajardo acted as chief judge and referee, and an FFA-KSA blackbelt, Nelson Selso, garnered first place in his division, the lightweight division.

Modern Arnis seminar held at Sports City stadium in Amman, Jordan, on September 2005 headed by Guro Wail Irshaid, an instructor under Master Godofredo Fajardo of Filipino Fighting Arts (FFA)..

This year, through personal travels and utilizing local FFA-KSA lakans, he has made serious inroads in establishing Modern Arnis in other Middle East countries. In 2005, for example, arnis was officially accepted as a martial art sport in Jordan by the Jordan Arnis Committee composed of Messrs. Sulaiman Qablan Al Shawarbi, Dr. Basil Yusif Al Shair, Wael I. M. Yahya and Mohammad Issa Yousef Kawash. In September of 2005, IMAFP hosted a Modern Arnis basic and advanced seminar headed by Guro Wail Irshaid, an FFA-KSA instructor and a Jordanian national. This seminar was held at Sports City, a sports stadium in Amman, Jordan. A total of five (5) countries (Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Palestine) and more than a hundred practitioners participated.

Master Fajardo (third from left) and students proudly display their twin banners of Filipino Fighting Arts-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia(FFA-KSA)and International Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines(IMAFP)among the date trees and sands of Saudi Arabia.

If his Modern Arnis is as hardy and life-giving as the date trees in his surroundings, Master Godofredo Fajardo has no cause to worry. Just like the date trees, his art and their practitioners will indeed grow and multiply, and be part of the Middle East landscape for years to come.

Jay de Leon is the Commissioner of North America for International Modern Arnis Federation of the Philippines (IMAFP), host of the Tipunan seminars and events, a corporate financial officer, an amateur historian, and freelance martial arts writer. He is a Contributing Editor as well as a Certified Instructor in “America-in-Defense” for WorldBlackBelt. He currently lives, writes and operates Filipino Fighting Arts USA in southern California, USA.

For information on Jay de Leon, please email him at jaydeleon@worldblackbelt.com. You may also reach him at 951-894-1452.

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